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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English answere, andsware, from Old English andswaru (answer), from Proto-Germanic *andaswarō (answer), equivalent to and- +‎ swear. Cognate with Old Frisian ondser (answer), Old Saxon andswōr (answer), Danish and Swedish ansvar (liability, responsibility, answer), Icelandic andsvar (answer, response). Compare also Old English andwyrde (answer) (cognate to Dutch antwoord, German Antwort), Old English andcwiss (reply), German Schwur (oath, vow).


answer (plural answers)

  1. A response or reply; something said or done in reaction to a statement or question.
    Her answer to his proposal was a slap in the face.
  2. A solution to a problem.
    There is no simple answer to corruption.
  3. (law) A document filed in response to a complaint, responding to each point raised in the complaint and raising counterpoints.
Derived termsEdit

See alsoEdit

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English answeren, andswaren, from Old English andswarian (to answer, respond, give an answer), from Proto-Germanic *and- (back, in return) + *swarō (oath), from Proto-Germanic *swarjaną (to speak, swear), equivalent to and- +‎ swear. Cognate with Old Frisian ondswera (to answer), Danish ansvare (to answer, account for), Swedish ansvara (to answer, account for), Icelandic andsvara (to answer, reply).


answer (third-person singular simple present answers, present participle answering, simple past and past participle answered)

  1. (transitive, intransitive) To make a reply or response to.
    • Bible, 1 Kings xviii. 26
      There was no voice, nor any that answered.
    • Shakespeare
      She answers him as if she knew his mind.
    • 1898, Winston Churchill, chapter 4, in The Celebrity:
      “Well,” I answered, at first with uncertainty, then with inspiration, “he would do splendidly to lead your cotillon, if you think of having one.” ¶ “So you do not dance, Mr. Crocker?” ¶ I was somewhat set back by her perspicuity.
    He answered the question.
  2. (transitive) To speak in defence against; to reply to in defence.
    to answer a charge or accusation
  3. (transitive, intransitive) To respond to a call by someone at a door or telephone, or other similar piece of equipment.
    She answered the door.
    Nobody answered when I knocked on the door.
  4. (transitive, intransitive) To suit a need or purpose satisfactorily.
    • Alexander Ellis
      Of course for publication in a newspaper, my palaeotype would not answer, but my glossotype would enable the author to give his Pennsylvania German in an English form and much more intelligibly.
    • 1903, Samuel Butler, chapter 41, in The Way of All Flesh:
      Theobald spoke as if watches had half-a-dozen purposes besides time-keeping, but he could hardly open his mouth without using one or other of his tags, and "answering every purpose" was one of them.
    It answers the need.
  5. To be accountable or responsible; to make amends.
    The man must answer to his employer for the money entrusted to his care.
    He has a lot to answer for.
    • Shakespeare
      Let his neck answer for it, if there is any martial law.
  6. (law) To file a document in response to a complaint.
  7. To correspond to; to be in harmony with; to be in agreement with.
    • 1775, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, The Duenna, Act 2, Scene 2
      I wish she had answered her picture as well.
    • B. Edwards
      The use of dunder in the making of rum answers the purpose of yeast in the fermentation of flour.
  8. To be opposite, or to act in opposition.
    • Gilpin
      The windows answering each other, we could just discern the glowing horizon through them.
  9. To be or act in conformity, or by way of accommodation, correspondence, relation, or proportion; to conform; to correspond; to suit; usually with to.
    • Jonathan Swift
      Weapons must needs be dangerous things, if they answered the bulk of so prodigious a person.
    • Shakespeare
      That the time may have all shadow and silence in it, and the place answer to convenience.
    • Shakespeare
      If this but answer to my just belief, / I'll remember you.
    • Bible, Proverbs xxvii. 19
      As in water face answereth to face, so the heart of man to man.
  10. To respond to satisfactorily; to meet successfully by way of explanation, argument, or justification; to refute.
    • Bible, Matt. xxii. 46
      No man was able to answer him a word.
    • Milton
      These shifts refuted, answer thine appellant.
    • Macaulay
      The reasoning was not and could not be answered.
  11. To be or act in compliance with, in fulfillment or satisfaction of, as an order, obligation, or demand.
    He answered my claim upon him.
    The servant answered the bell.
    • Shakespeare
      This proud king [] studies day and night / To answer all the debts he owes unto you.
  12. (obsolete) To render account to or for.
    • Shakespeare
      I will [] send him to answer thee.
  13. (obsolete) To atone; to be punished for.
    • Shakespeare
      And grievously hath Caesar answered it.
  14. (obsolete) To be or act as an equivalent to, or as adequate or sufficient for; to serve for; to repay.
    • Bible, Eccles. x. 19
      Money answereth all things.
Derived termsEdit
The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables, removing any numbers. Numbers do not necessarily match those in definitions. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout#Translations.

See alsoEdit


Most common English words before 1923 in Project Gutenberg: written · arms · across · #446: answer · early · saying · talk